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Mainichi Daily News (B) (11)
Saturday, May 14, 1983  [[Asian characters]]
ART: People And Places

ZARINA is a most unusual name and in that sense, too, aptly fits the unusually talented artist it identifies. Her full name is Zarina Hashmi and the work she has become best known for internationally are her cast paper multiples. Her most recent workshop in Berkeley, California, came when her works were being shown at Satori Gallery in San Francisco, just across the bay. She is now once more at home in New York where she maintains a studio and it was at this studio that I spent  a delightful afternoon last year, learning about her art and getting to know the person behind this surge of creativity.

With a woman's privilege, she begins her resume with graduation from Aligarh University in India in the late 1950s. She then went to Bangkok for three years where she began doing woodcuts. Her interest whetted, she moved to Paris, in Stanley Hayter's Atelier 17, where she spent four more years studying printmaking. Her countryman, KRISHNA REDDY, was already at the Hayter workshop then and their friendship dates to those early years. From Atelier 17 it continued on to St. Martin's School of Art in London before returning to India in 1968 to begin her own printmaking workshop in New Delhi the same year.

She remained in India for three years during which time she traveled extensively throughout her native land with its ancient culture and diverse tongues creating a cacophonous backdrop to her search for understanding. She discovered, virtually untouched by technology, a small textile-producing village where the waste cotton was recycled and made into paper using the most elementary techniques. This experience was the beginning, but several more years of travel and study intervened before it germinated and bloomed into its own.

From 1971 to 1974 she was in West Germany studying serigraphy and then came to Japan to investigate firsthand the process of paper making and printing from that cultural viewpoint. And it was there in Japan that Zarina, in her own words, "was struck by its (paper's) beauty and character. I began to think of paper as paper."

In 1975 she moved to New York City where she has since been evolving and progressing her career as a printmaker and artist. She has lectured and demonstrated throughout the world since first becoming an 

Serene and elegant, ZARINI HASHMI seated before one of her cast paper wall pieces at her New York City studio.

independent artist, and her list of independent shows is equally diverse in national sites. But I think that one of the more important points to make from this worldwide career journey is how the full value is in truth the sum of many separate parts. Each time and place has had a special meaning to her art and it is interesting to note how she weaves those varied instances into her work.  

The January-March 1982 issue of Design carried an article on Zarina by Patwant Singh where she is quoted: "I like paper's organic character, its nobility and strength. I don't shun paper making as a craft. I embrace it as one."

Singh goes onto to say that what has evolved from her many faceted studies is an art form which is simultaneously sculpture, architecture and painting. And even then it is difficult to define exactly; so distinct is its own identity.

Zarina's studio is a multitude of vats for mixing pulps (some full and ready to use with others waiting their turn), a jumble of moulds for her cast paper works (specially constructed from the most ordinary materials and shapes that in combination somehow are transformed to be extraordinary imagery), and a small but quite livable space for one to call home. Her works are on the walls and in racks filling the odd corners while drying "in process" pieces are being fanned to completion with exhaust blowers removing moisture from the thick layers of drying pulp.

As yet unnamed, this billowing form was several weeks to being completely dried. Her forms are mostly made of scrap plexiglass salvaged from the trash, while her pulp is made of recycled cotton scrap.

Artweek said that "Traces" makes other cast paper efforts look like flashes in the pan. "Traces" seems to reflect a kind of inner glow.

The subtle coloration of her works is derived from earth pigments of carbon as she avoids synthetic chemical colors. And it is surely this type of attention to detail that brings out a special feeling in her work. The colors are just right for the deeply "incised" repetitive patterns (or so it seems) and the size and format of each work gives that overall pattern a proper setting on which the viewer can easily focus his undivided attention. 

In closing, I think the Artweek review of September 1982 does an excellent job of describing Zarina's works: "...causes one to reassess the function and capabilities of paper as well as the meaning of such words as casting and sculpture and relief." 

In Mirthland

A father was absorbed in his newspaper when his young son ventured to ask about a homework problem. "Dad," asked the boy, "where are the Alps?"

"Ask your mother," said his dad. "She puts everything away."
* * *
Home from Washington, D.C., the businessman looked out of the window and saw a log floating down the river. He pointed it out to a friend.

"See that log?" he said. "That's just like Washington. If you were to examine that log carefully you'd find 10,000 ants on it — and each one would think he's steering it."

Transcription Notes:
Cannot transcribe what is represented by the bracketed question mark above.

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